Ecological and evolutionary impacts of disturbance regimes on vegetation structures

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

Maud Comboul

Maud Comboul

Forest ecosystems are frequently disturbed by wind, fire, or herbivores. Disturbance regimes vary greatly in nature and intensity, depending on the disturbance mechanism, as well as the spatial and climatic environment of the disturbed vegetation landscape. Although it is straightforward to measure the direct impact of disturbances on vegetation by reporting the affected areas where most individuals have died, it remains a challenge to uncover the consequences that different disturbance regimes have on forest demography and evolution.

Field studies are constrained by the often relatively long times needed for observing demographic change, and, for the same reason, empirical studies of adaptive evolution often have to build on comparative evidence between regions. These limitations have promoted theoretical research on modeling forest dynamics.

Building on recent advances by Falster et al., who in a previous YSSP project have studied a size-structured metapopulation model for the adaptive evolution of two salient plant functional traits, I will develop an individual-based, spatially-explicit forest model in which the demographic and evolutionary consequences of different disturbance regimes will be explored. The present effort will therefore reveal how results by Falster et al. are affected by considering explicit space and finite population size.

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Last edited: 24 March 2016

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